In which the ultimate vacation destination is Auburn, Cal.

You know you are really really really an endurance rider when somebody refers to Auburn California as the "ultimate vacation destination" and you smile.
And nod.
And look a little wistful.

Auburn, CA is the location of the finish line of the oldest organized endurance ride in the world--and one of the most challenging, as well: The Western States Trail Ride, known more commonly as The Tevis Cup.

Tevis has been held annually since 1955 except when it was cancelled in 2008 because of smoke from nearby forest fires.

The course is 100 miles through the Sierra Nevadas, beginning near Lake Tahoe at Robie Park (named for Wendall Robie, the first ride manager for Tevis pictured above)

over the famous rocky scramble at Cougar Rock, and finishing 100 miles away at the fairgrounds in Auburn, covering approximately 17,040 feet of uphill climbing and 21,970 feet of descent.

(For comparison, Mount Rainier is measured at 14,410 above sea level).

As with all sanctioned endurance rides, there are vet checks along the trail, and Tevis veterinarians don't mess around: completion rate for the ride is about 50%. (For comparison, the completion rate for 2009 endurance rides in the Northwest region was around 88%.)

As one vet told me, "There's nothing further down the Tevis trail that will make a tired horse less tired, a hungry horse less hungry, or a lame horse less lame."

This Saturday, as I have for many years, I'll be cheering Tevis horses and riders from a distance. Here's the list of riders I'll be watching via the Tevis Webcast (I'll try not to forget anybody, but no promises--there are nearly 200 teams signed up for the start!) Some are Swampland region riders, others are blog friends.

#49 Karen Chaton and Bo

#67 Molly Farkus and Duffy

#68 Mel Faubel and Farley

#98 Jonni Jewel and Hank

#110 Paul Latiolais and Pete

#149 Trina Romo and Cecily G (I don't know this horse or rider, but Cissy is the only registered Standardbred in the race...and I love that she's named for a giraffe in the Curious George books!)

This ride is rocky, it's cold, it's hot, it's strenuous, and it's really freakin' hard. If you finish, you earn the right to wear a silver Tevis buckle.

So, why do so many endurance riders do this crazy event? Why is Tevis on my Life List? (Some day I will do this ride!)

Why would anybody pay money to participate in something so difficult?

Louis Armstrong said it right when he was asked to define jazz music.

"Man," he said, "If you got to ask the question, you won't ever understand the answer."


  1. I'm going friday to crew for my couisen Melinda!
    And make mashes
    Massage her horses hind end
    And stay up all hours of the night waiting for her to come in, and looking forward to it!

  2. I just had a very short day dream of fat boy Poco huffing and puffing, sweating like a pig after about 3-4 miles. Not that I'm up to it either.

    When you go, I'll cheer for you, how's that?

  3. AareneX - you are too kind! :) Makes me feel so good that now I have your million readers looking out for me :)

    Eleanor - so glad you found this blog! I think you will enjoy it so stick around (and yes, I'm looking forward to seeing you this weekend too. No Friday night giggles this year please! :) )

    is it really fair that my verification word is "fatos". *sigh* I'm thinking subliminal messageing.

  4. I don't ever see myself as being brave enough to try the Tevis ride. At this point in my life, I would be happy to just get a chance to try an (easier)LD ride.

    The Tevis is WAY off of my radar. I would, however, love the chance to go and crew for someone or even just watch part of the ride.

    I wish all of your friends great luck and a safe ride! :)

  5. Man," he said, "If you got to ask the question, you won't ever understand the answer."

    All I can say to that is a big fat AMEN. ~ E.G.

    p.s. purple is!

  6. The Ultimate Challenge for an Endurance Horse and Rider!

    I think I will have to remain reading your blog for the day when you finally participate in Tevis. How exciting will that be!

    I can say, "I knew you back then"




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